Daphne du Maurier

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Themes and Colors
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Rebecca, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


From the first sentence, it’s apparent that Rebecca is constructed as a memory. The narrator (never named) remembers her time at Manderley after marrying her husband, the handsome, mysterious Maxim de Winter. As the novel goes on, however, we realize that life at Manderley is dominated by the memory of Maxim’s first wife, Rebecca. In essence, the novel Rebecca is about the memory of a memory. In light of memory’s obvious importance to…

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Feminism and Gender Roles

Rebecca is a dated novel in many ways. When it was published, about 75 years ago, assumptions about how women, especially married women, should behave were markedly different than they are today. To “get into” the novel, readers would have to believe that the public would be shocked by the thought of a wealthy aristocrat divorcing his wife—something that seems fairly uncontroversial by modern standards. Additionally, Du Maurier blurs many of the sexual details of…

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Coming of Age

In addition to being a taut mystery, a Gothic romance, and a prototypical feminist text, Rebecca is an insightful coming-of-age story. When we first meet the narrator, she’s essentially a child: a young, innocent woman who has no idea what the future holds for her. By the end of the novel, she’s become a mature adult—as her husband, Maxim de Winter, says, she seems to have grown from a girl to a woman…

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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic

In Rebecca, du Maurier addresses the theme of imprisonment in many ways. From a feminist standpoint, for example, it’s easy to see that the narrator is imprisoned by the gender roles of her time. But du Maurier also confronts the theme of imprisonment in an even more literal sense: by studying the role of a physical place, Manderley, in the narrator’s life. In order to study Manderley, the de Winter family estate, Rebecca

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Power, Control, and Information

Like many of Daphne du Maurier’s works, Rebecca studies how people maintain power over others. Surprisingly, the characters in the novel almost never rely on physical force (the simplest form of power, one would think) to assert themselves—in fact, on the one significant occasion when a character does use violence, his actions are presented as a total failure. Instead of violence, the powerful characters in Rebecca control their weaker peers using intimidation, manipulation, and various…

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